I decided to make dinner tonight, which is a rare occurrence but something I’ve been finding more enjoyable as the years go on. I had to make a trip to grocery store because my kitchen is basically devoid of anything to make any semblance of a meal. I was in the checkout line and the clerk bagging my groceries asked me, “Do you wanna know something?” I immediately thought to myself, “Ok, seriously? Why are you asking me questions, just bag my food.” That is so horribly mean, I know. But right then, I noticed that this gentleman was significantly autistic. Guilt flowed through me. (Ok, honestly, I feel equally as guilty now that I only felt that way because he was autistic. Like, what is that about? I should feel guilty reacting that way to anyone asking me a question. Man…but, to continue…) Whenever I talk with someone with any kind of mental disability, I have so much love and compassion and make every effort to speak to them as I would to anyone else, because why wouldn’t I? They are no different than me. I cherish these interactions because these individuals never fail to teach me the beauty of the innocence in life. They might struggle with something different than I do, but we are all dealt our own cards and who knows, mine might be worse. I replied, “Tell me.” He asked me if I take selfies, which I reluctantly confirmed that yes, I am self absorbed and do take selfies from time to time. I already loved where this conversation was going. He asked me if I do the “duck face”. I just laughed. “Sometimes”, I replied. He proceeded to tell me that he recently took a selfie, did the duck face, and that he wanted to confirm if he was doing it correctly. He showed me his photo and I immediately began to double over in laughter. His photo consisted of him smiling in front of a massive rubber duck. I have no idea where he was where there was a blow up rubber duck of that size, but I was jealous. His brilliant irony began to make him laugh, as well. Once, I realized he was messing with me I continued to laugh for about twenty seconds, because honestly, that one minute interaction was the most real- life, authentic, perfectly sarcastic conversation I’d had in a while. How depressing. I told him he had most definitely achieved his goal. I absolutely loved this guy. I shook his hand, grabbed my groceries, and as I began to walk out of the store, he looked at me said, “I’m glad I was able to make you laugh today.” I melted. My heart actually MELTED from the sincerity of that comment. If only all moments in life where this sweet. I sense these moments are reflective of God’s heart. True kindness. True joy. True innocence. That is where His heart is. I’m sure of it.
I am sitting here in my living room thinking right now, “Why do I love those moments? What makes those moments special?” I believe it’s because innocence is rare. It is lost so young. Our world, as it currently stands, worships the “intellectual”, the “successful”, the “beautiful”, among other things. In turn, society encourages the young to abandon childhood quickly for the sake of these impossibly high standards. Even in my adult life, I’ve been asked many times, “You’ve never done ___? Or, You don’t have ___?” I wish I wouldn’t have reached for adulthood so prematurely because exposure doesn’t mean enlightenment. Of course, we all grow in maturity and our adulthood is a thing of beauty, but why do we abandon the sweetness of sincerity and joy in the small moments, as children do? Now, this man was obviously not a child, but his limitations proved a greater witness than the seemingly “superior” mind. Similar to a child, his joy spoke volumes. His fulfillment in that small interaction was only reflection of the beauty of God’s character. This ministered to my spirit in a greater way than that man will ever know.
Matthew 18: 2-6 reads, “He called a child to Him, and placed the child among them. And He said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of a child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”
Children, when very young, do not desire authority and do not observe outward characteristics. They are free from resentment, are teachable, and are willingly dependent on their parents. They simply embrace what they observe. I strive for this contentment. Of course, as they develop, they begin to show other inclinations and ideas which are taught to them at an early age; but these are the markings of childhood, and they prove to be virtues we as Christians should strive for if we are to be “lowly and humble”, while abandoning pride and acknowledging the necessity of humility so that we would bear the image of Christ. I would encourage you, whoever you may be and whatever you may be going through, embrace innocence as a badge of honor because God has promised that “the meek shall inherit the Earth.” (Matthew 5:5)
So, thank you, sweet man at Ralph’s. You absolutely made my day.
“Christ wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job.” – C.S. Lewis
“The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground.” – G.K. Chesterton